January 22, 2018

Volunteer Community Service!

There are many reasons to serve as a volunteer in your community and we often encourage (or entice) high school students to serve by tying their community service to scholarship money.   And while this is a good reason to get out there and serve as a volunteer – please don’t let it be your only reason. Volunteer community service is important in a variety of ways!

volunteer community service

Find something that you are passionate about!

Ideally, the main reason students should be volunteering should be to benefit the community in which they reside or to help others who are in need.   Get involved in a cause – don’t just tick off the hours to rack up points towards an award. Find a need that you can meet and set out to meet it!   You may be interested in working with the public library, the zoo, a hospital, an animal rescue shelter, a homeless shelter, or a local elementary school.   Many of these organizations have an established volunteer program.  Or – you may start your own cause.  I have known of students who prepared sack lunches for homeless children going to school, students who started a local race to raise money for a women’s clinic, and students who collected school supplies for their public school.

Students, while you are out serving, take advantage of the opportunity to make an impression on the adults around you.  Be sure to show up early, dress appropriately, work diligently and politely, speak confidently and serve earnestly.  You will be noticed!  Later, when you need letters of recommendation or connections to a job or school, you will have adults who have no problem vouching for you.

And, there is a distinction between ‘volunteering’ and ‘community service’.  Just because you are doing a job for which you are not receiving pay (or some other benefit) does not necessarily mean that you are serving your community and therefore it may not be recognized as community service.  For example: babysitting for your neighbor for free is a wonderful service, but it does not benefit the community at large.   By the same token, many organizations will not recognize volunteer hours used to win people to a particular side – for example, evangelism or working for a political candidate.  You will especially find that several scholarships do not accept hours working to benefit a church – things such as working in the church nursery or helping out with VBS.  And, if community service is mandated by a judge – it is not voluntary.

How many community service hours should you have?   In the state of Florida, the Bright Futures scholarships requires students to complete at least 75 or 100 hours of community service, depending on the award level.  In addition, there are many other college scholarships tied to a student’s volunteer hours.  So, I would suggest that you aim to have at least 100 hours, but do not stop when you reach that number.

To validate your hours, you will need to obtain something on the organization’s letterhead giving the details about your date(s) of service, the type of work done and the number of hours spent.  If you did serve the community with your church – it’s okay to have something on the church’s letterhead, just be sure to clarify the type of work done.

And, while I did emphasize that scholarship money should not be the driving force, here are a couple of scholarships awarded based on a student’s service to his/her community:

Prudential Spirit of Community Awards

Kohl’s Cares Scholarship Program

~to your success


(Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)


  1. Michelle Goodrich says:

    Thanks for this post. My daughter is taking Driver’s Ed this summer.

Speak Your Mind